So in about a year I am going to be a bridesmaid for my little sister. This is just the kind of goal I need to diet, focus on my weight loss and getting healthier, which all ties in nicely with my quest to be a calmer, happier and healthier person.
I have decided to vlog about my journey as that will give me a visual reminder of where I’ve been and where I am and as it’s something that makes me rather uncomfortable it will also help to keep me in check. Plus it’s always good to push yourself.
During my journey I will be getting to try all kinds of new products and sharing my experiences of them with you.
This week I’m trying to get back onto my normal posting schedule, just for it to be messed up again as I’m not even in the country next Monday, but you never know, I might still slip a little update in, or I might be enjoying myself way too much.
This week I had gained 1lb, but I’m feeling surprisingly upbeat. Ridiculously so if I’m honest. I’m in control of my weight loss having started trying Yokebe today, replacing two meals a day with one of their shakes. I have printed off a useful cleaning schedule so I’m on top of the housework, it’s the little things that help. I’m drinking all the water I should be thanks to a new app. I’m still taking all my supplements. Generally I just spent today feeling like a bit of a boss. I have so got this.
So my amazing app was on Google Play’s 10p Deal of the week, it’s called Aqualert, I’d seriously nip in there and grab it whilst it’s only 10p, if you’re on Android that is. There’s a free version too. It calculates how much water YOU should be drinking, not just a generic guide. It reminds you to drink. You just tick off every time you’ve had a glass of water until you hit your target. I’ve found it super motivational and I’ve really upped my water intake. Plus we all know that drinking enough water really helps with weight loss.
As for Yokebe, well I only started using it today so I don’t have much to report. I’m replacing two meals a day, breakfast and lunch as that works best for me. It has a natural honey flavour which is rather pleasant, in fact it’s 100% natural which I really like. Shake up with milk and a drop of vegetable oil and you’re away.
I haven’t felt hungry today and I really haven’t had much. A Yokebe shake for breakfast. A little chocolate bar mid morning, not great I know but the little one drove me to it. Lunch time I mixed up my shake in my smoothie maker and added a banana and blueberries for a treat instead of eating them as snacks, yum. Three plain tuk biscuits. Dinner was fish fingers, chips and beans with the boy. Then this evening I’ve snacked on popcorn. Certainly room for improvement but not half bad.
I’ve got a ten day supply of Yokebe, so I’ll tell you more about it and update you with how I’ve got on when I’ve been using it for long enough to really know, but day one was a great start, I’m feeling amazing, I’m not hungry and I’m in control.
Most excitingly Yokebe set me up with an interview with dietitian Laura Clark to ask all of my burning weight loss questions, which was so useful and really enlightening, so without further ado here it is, my interview with Laura Clark.
Laura Clark is a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist with over 14 years’ experience. She has appeared on BBC Breakfast, Channel 5 and BBC London radio to discuss and debate topical nutrition issues and was also the dietitian for ITV’s “The Biggest Loser” series and BBC 1’s “Lose Weight for Love”.
BS: One of my biggest failings when it comes to dieting is craving a sweet treat! What are the best ways you find to deal with cravings?
LC: Dieting is hard going for the body. We want the benefits of weight loss that a reduced calorie intake brings, but your body sees this shortfall as a bad thing and so, without the right balance of foods in your diet, cravings are all too common.
The first thing to do is think about your mealtime routine – eating regularly and leaving no more than 3-4 hours between meals or snacks will help you work out where you’re feeling that craving. Is it in your head or your stomach?!
The second thing is to bring balance to your meals. Small portions of wholegrain carbohydrate combined with some lean protein and plenty of fibre from vegetables or salad helps to regulate your blood sugar levels and prevent big peaks and troughs. It is often the troughs that trigger your body to crave sweet things. You can choose to achieve this balance through foods alone, or some people find a combination of meal replacement shakes with healthy meals or snacks in between is a good way to get started.
When trying to lose weight, another important thing to consider is your protein intake – protein isn’t just for gym bunnies, if used correctly it can be a great support for anyone wanting to slim down. Protein has been shown to keep people feeling fuller for longer, so could help to reduce portion sizes and quash those snack cravings – meaning you save on calories. It also helps your body maintain muscle mass, which protects your metabolic rate. This is vital for sustainable weight loss so make sure you’re eating protein regularly in your day. As you’re vegetarian Briony, you will always need to include eggs, low fat dairy, nuts and seeds or pulses and lentils, for example.
BS: As a classic yo-yo dieter, what are your top tips to help me find a diet that works for me and keeps me healthy long term?
LC: If you want to achieve successful and sustainable weight loss, often the first and most important thing you need to do is re-think your relationship with food, as this will help you to understand what causes you to eat in a certain way. If you don’t tackle your lifestyle and habits head on when ‘dieting’, it’s almost inevitable that you will regain any weight previously lost once you end the ‘diet’ – and potentially end up bigger than you were before. Old habits die hard! If you want to retrain your thought patterns, take a proactive approach and fuel your body well throughout the day, rather than a reactive approach where you end up eating more of the wrong foods and beating yourself up about it.
To fuel your body well it’s important to look at the overall composition of your diet. There should be no demonised or banned foods, nor any strict regimes that make you miserable. You need an understanding of your portions (including treats, within reason), a commitment to cooking healthily most of the time and enough flexibility so that your diet can be adapted to daily life and all the craziness that brings!
Take a step back and think about what influences your habits. For example, portion size… Large plates? Cooking too much? A free upgrade at the local café? Or the large bag for ‘sharing’ that didn’t really get shared? Work on the challenges in real life rather than sweeping them to one side only to begin yet another ‘diet’.
When they’re made with good, nourishing ingredients, meal replacement shakes can work for some, because they provide a calorie controlled solution to weight loss, and give people breathing space to think through and improve their eating habits for life – while still offering the benefits of immediate weight loss. If you’re considering starting a meal replacement plan, make sure you look at the ingredients list as there can be variance between brands. Look out for high protein content and choose a shake that is packed with vitamins and minerals and formulated with natural ingredients.
BS: What sort of foods should I be eating more of if I want to lose weight? Are there any ingredients I should be looking out for?
LC: Despite what you may often read, there are no magical fat burning ingredients that exist, but there are some nutrients that are of value, and it’s important to eat a balanced diet to ensure you get enough of them.
Higher fibre intakes are associated with reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and, as a PCOS sufferer, you do have a higher risk of developing this. Fibre also contributes to feelings of fullness alongside protein, so has been shown to help in weight management. It is therefore important to eat wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, oatcakes or quinoa. Popcorn is also a wholegrain! 🙂
It’s also worth noting that, depending on where they come from, calories can have very different effects on the body. Take protein, for example, which has a higher ‘thermogenic’ effect than other nutrients. This means your body uses up more energy and generates more heat to digest protein than it does to digest carbohydrate or fat. Because protein can’t be stored by the body, it has to either break it down and use it or get rid of it, which is a high pressure job to undertake! Meals containing protein are therefore likely to make your body work harder than unbalanced meals that are high in carbohydrate alone. So while you may be relaxing after a protein-filled lunch, your metabolism won’t be!
PCOS is an example of a condition where you may be suffering from insulin resistance. This does make weight loss harder. To help it really does come back to a balance of protein, carbohydrate, healthy fats and fibre to regulate your blood sugar levels and make insulin’s job as easy as possible. You may want to take the pressure of meal selection for a bit and choose a calorie controlled solution like a meal replacement shake that provides a balance of nutrients in a convenient format to support your weight loss. Any product designed to replace meals should contain a broad range of micronutrients like B-vitamins which contribute towards a healthy metabolism and minerals such as zinc, magnesium and calcium which are important for the healthy functioning of the body.
B-vitamins are also important for a healthy metabolism. Look out particularly for vitamins B5 – which helps break down carbohydrates for energy and can be found in things like wholegrains, pulses and avocado – and B6 – which helps the body release energy from protein and is found in many foods including fish, dairy products, wholegrains and eggs. Vitamin B12 helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue, and is another important ally for people wanting to lose weight. It is found mostly in fish, meat, eggs and dairy products, so if you’re veggie make sure you’re including plenty of valuable sources in your diet. If you’re vegan, you will probably need a supplement to meet your required daily allowance.
BS: Diet for me is a complex thing, like it is for many. I have PCOS so I find losing weight hard and gaining it super easy. But more than that I don’t see food as a means to an end… I enjoy food, I use food to celebrate a success and comfort a loss, there is not an occasion when food is not the answer for me. I also know that I need to get to a place where I can be healthy and happy with my body for the sake of my son – I do not want to be the mum who doesn’t join in and I’m already starting to see that happen. I don’t climb to the top of the soft play with him for fear that I will become wedged!
LC: Yes, you are completely right – food is so much more to us than a fuel. If food is used as an outlet for other things like you say, it’s important to tackle this. Easy to say and hard to do when habits are so ingrained, but we all have the ability to change. By setting ourselves small steps we can make our goals easier to achieve and allow our confidence in our abilities to grow as a result.
Meanwhile, try to be savvy about what you eat. Fad diets are rarely the solution as they often involve depriving the body to some degree. If you look at the statistics around people who lose weight and keep weight off, it’s the old fashioned things that work. Small, proven steps like journaling food, weighing yourself, portion control and building activity into daily life may not sound like the most exciting things, but they really do make a difference.
*Laura is a registered dietitian working with Yokebe Active Food – a brand new range of meal replacement shakes – to provide evidence-based advice and rationale for the use of meal replacement shakes in weight management
I hope you all found my interview with Laura as interesting and useful as I did, I really think her advice will help my weight loss, check back with me soon to see how I’m getting on.
Disclosure – I was gifted the products mentioned free of charge for use in this article, all opinions are my own based on my personal experience.